August 05, 2019
A fertility treatment designed to delay the menopause by up to 20 years and enable women to have children at an older age is now available in the UK – but not everyone is convinced by it. 
This Fertility Treatment Could Delay Your Menopause – But Experts Urge Caution
The procedure is being offered to women up to the age of 40 by Birmingham-based company ProFama and will set you back between £7,000 and £11,000.
Under the procedure, doctors complete surgery to remove a small piece of ovarian tissue from the woman’s body. This is then frozen and stored until the woman enters menopause.
At this stage, the tissue is thawed and transplanted back into the woman’s body, stimulating her hormones to restore them to pre-menopausal levels, potentially enabling her to get pregnant. 
Nine British women aged between 22 and 36 have already undergone the surgery, according to IVF pioneer Professor Simon Fishel, who founded ProFama. 
The procedure could help working women delay side effects of the menopause, such as low mood, hot flushes and anxiety, the researchers said. They also suggest it could help women who wish to focus on their careers and become mothers at a later date. 
“One of the reasons for the rising infertility rates is that women are not thinking about having babies until their 30s,” Professor Simon Fishel told The Telegraph.
“If this procedure allows women to nail a career and feel that burden taken off their shoulders, and if by 40 they still want a baby but are not able to have their own naturally, they can go back to their tissue which they froze at 30.”[Read More: What To Expect During The Perimenopause] 
Ovarian grafting has already been successfully used to help women with cancer to preserve their fertility before they undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy, according to Professor Dr Geeta Nargund, medical director of Create Fertility and lead consultant for reproductive medicine at St George’s Hospital.
More than 100 babies have been born worldwide from ovarian grafting using this technique in such cases, she said. But, she stressed, using this technology to delay menopause in healthy women is very different. 
“The proposal that this technique would halt the menopause for 20 years has not been proven by peer-reviewed scientific studies,” she told HuffPost UK.
“There are too many imponderables about this claim. We do not know if the grafted ovarian tissue will produce adequate amounts of oestrogen and progesterone required to protect women from menopausal effects, including osteoporosis. Many important questions need to be answered about its safety and efficacy.”
Professor Nargund pointed out that existing treatments to preserve fertility such as egg freezing are not as invasive as ovarian grafting. 
“We should be promoting fertility education, better housing, family-friendly working conditions and increased access to NHS IVF funding in order to help women and couples start families when they are younger,” she added.[Read More: The Reality Of Life On The IVF Waiting List: ’I Feel At A Constant Standstill]
Sarah Norcross, director of the charity Progress Educational Trust, echoed Professor Nargund’s concerns. 
“There is only limited evidence that these surgical procedures, which were originally designed to preserve the fertility of young women undergoing cancer treatment, might successfully extend a woman’s ability to have children after the age of menopause,” she told HuffPost UK.
“More research is needed into the safety of increasing the number of fertile years available to women, and in the meantime women should be cautious about paying for this experimental treatment.”
Dr Nargund pointed out Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has undergone robust clinical trials for decades and can help reduce menopause symptoms. She called on the government to remove prescription charges around HRT, adding: “We should promote less invasive treatments that are proven to be safe and effective.”READ MORE: Egg Freezing Is The Fastest Growing Fertility Treatment – Here's What You Need To Know Perimenopause: What To Expect During The Final Years Of Your Periods This Hormone Could Be Key To Improving Women's Sex Lives After Menopause
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